The Carnal and the Crane

The Carnal and the Crane

"The Carnal and the Crane" is Child ballad 55 and a Christmas carol. [Francis James Child, "English and Scottish Popular Ballads", [ "The Carnal and the Crane"] ] It depicts a conversation between two birds -- apparently, although the species of the "carnal" has never been identified.


A carnal tells a crane about the birth of Jesus: that he was born in a stable, of a virgin, and slept in a manger; that the Magi told King Herod of the birth, Herod said that if it were true, the cock on his table would revive and crow, and the cock did so; that Herod ordered the Massacre of the Innocents, that St. Joseph had to flee to Egypt and beasts worshiped Jesus on the way; that a husbandman's seed were miraculously sown and brought to harvest when Jesus passed, he reported that to Herod, and Herod, assuming that the growth has been natural, pulled back because he would never have been able to catch them if they were months ahead.


While no very old manuscripts have been found, internal evidence points to the work being older than the texts. [Francis James Child, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", v 2, p 7, Dover Publications, New York 1965] It includes several popular legends of the life of Jesus. [Francis James Child, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", v 2, p 7, Dover Publications, New York 1965]

This story, with St. Stephen featuring as the hero, appears in Child ballad 55, "Saint Stephen and Herod". [Francis James Child, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", v 1, p 233, Dover Publications, New York 1965]

The miraculous restoration of a rooster to life is a common motif in European ballads; it frequently appears in a tale in which an innocent person condemned to death is miraculously saved from death, and in which someone expresses disbelief in that miracle as it was unlikely as the rooster's resurrection. [Francis James Child, "The English and Scottish Popular Ballads", v 1, p 236, Dover Publications, New York 1965]


External links

* [ "The Carnal and the Crane"]
* [ "The Carnal and the Crane"] with notes.

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